Sound Check: October 2009


Sound Check is a monthly column providing news and reviews of queer women in music.

It’s an exciting month for music, especially for long-awaited follow-up albums. Perhaps the two biggest that gay women have been anticipating are from The Gossip and Tegan and Sara. Both acts have been working on new music since 2007, and it’s darn near toward the end of 2009 before we could hear the fruits of their labor (and lack of downtime).

While Tegan and Sara have been top secret with Sainthood, despite a few videos of live songs performed in Victoria and the release of single “Hell,” The Gossip put their album, Music for Men on for a live stream months in advance, and have actively performed new material on the road.

And since October is ripe with “new,” this month’s Sound Check will be chock full of reviews. Onto the good (and not so good) stuff!

Releases Reviewed

The Gossip’s Music for Men is a progression on their soul-based pop rock that they really put forward on Standing in the Way of Control, which also signaled a departure from their previous work on smaller albums and a different drummer.

Now with lesbian drummer Hannah Blile as a permanent fixture in the trio, The Gossip have not only become widely known in the U.S., but international superstars. Europe fully embraced Beth Ditto and bandmates, and now Music for Men is a slickly produced response to their new lifestyle. While they deal with some of the same themes that they always have (living a less-than-privileged life on “Dimestore Diamond,” trust issues on single “Heavy Cross”), there’s a hint of a different Gossip on the new album. Perhaps they are outlining it for us themselves with lyrics like: “We can play it safe, play it cool, follow the leader or make up all the rules, whatever you want, the choice is yours so choose.”

Music for Men is a strong offering and will not disappoint Gossip fans, especially when the band brings the live show to their cities.

Another group you are most likely familiar with are bringing a little something different on their latest CD. The L Word‘s infamous theme song makers, Betty might surprise you on Bright and Dark.

Elements of disco and dance-pop are frequent themes on the album, from the drum machine and chant-based “Did You Tell Her?” (a true lesbian anthem), to “King Kong” featuring B-52 singer Kate Pierson, it’s the same playful Betty, but with a little more youthful accessibility that might be what they need to reach young and new listeners.

There’s also a track dedicated to Linda Blair, the star of The Exorcist. It’s creepy, funny and totally gay.

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